One of the biggest questions employers have about video interviewing is the discrimination question. Thankfully, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) found there is nothing wrong with using video interviewing in the hiring process. Video interviews don’t break discrimination laws, infringe upon employee rights, or undermine diverse hiring practices.
Let's take a quick look at discrimination laws and then delve into what the EEOC says about the usage of video interviews:
Workplace discrimination is a big problem, which is why the EEOC was founded in 1965 to ensure all workers are afforded the same rights without worrying about race, age, or religious discrimination.
In the hiring process, discrimination takes the form of decreased opportunities for individuals to find and secure employment. If a candidate isn't considered for a position based entirely on their race, gender, disability, or religious affiliation, then it is clearly a case of discrimination.
So what's protected by discrimination laws? Characteristics covered by EEOC guidelines include race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy and sexual orientation), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.
Asking discriminatory questions is another big problem during the hiring process. To stay aligned with discrimination laws and EEOC guidelines, employers want to steer clear of asking questions that have no impact on job performance.
For instance, asking a candidate about their background and work experiences is completely within the purview of employers hiring for a position. Asking a candidate when she plans to start a family or trying to discover if a candidate has a disability, however, is completely off limits. These questions would be considered gender discrimination and disability discrimination, and would make a company liable to legal issues.
More importantly, questions like these foster a negative company culture, make candidates uncomfortable, and hurt diversity efforts. Employment discrimination doesn't just hurt job candidates, it also hurts the very companies performing these practices.
So is there anything wrong with using the video interview? The answer is a resounding no. There is nothing about video interviewing in itself that is discriminatory. But employers like to make sure they're compliant, so when a new recruiting technology comes along, companies want to ensure there is no discrimination component.
Therefore, the EEOC has been asked several times about the use of video interviewing in the hiring process. In 2004, the EEOC was asked directly about the usage of video resumes. The EEOC explained Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) covered the questions regarding record-keeping when viewing video resumes.
Under Title VII, it is not illegal for employers to learn the gender, race, or ethnicity of a candidate prior to the interview. Therefore, viewing a video resume or one-way video interview before interviewing a candidate in-person is completely legal under this statute.
Of course, hiring managers and employers are cautious folk. In 2010, the EEOC was once again asked about discrimination laws as they applied to the video interview. Again, the organization cited Title VII when explaining why it saw no problem with the usage of the video interview.
Here's an exact quote: “The EEO laws do not expressly prohibit the use of specific technologies or methods for selecting employees, and therefore do not prohibit the use of video resumes.”
While the letter is about the usage of video resumes, it's a small logical leap to see how Title VII would play out similarly for one-way video interviews. And live video interviews should have no more potential to run afoul of discrimination laws than an in-person meeting, since employer and candidate meet in real-time.
You need to put rules in place for your team in order to avoid discrimination in the hiring process. These rules should be standard and should prize job-related skills and qualifications.
The most important thing to remember when it comes to video interviews is that technology is only a tool. It can be used for good or for ill, depending on how a human being wields it.
Technology can't practice discrimination. Your webcam doesn't hold discriminatory opinions or beliefs. Only humans can discriminate, and therefore video interviews can become an important tool in your hiring toolbox without breaking any discrimination laws.